I first watched Gang War in Naples many years ago on a grainy, much copied bootleg VHS and wasn’t that impressed. Suffice to say that watching it as proper, decent quality print is a very different experience. Fabio Testi stars as Tonino Russo, an ex-con who falls in with Camorra boss Don Mario Capece (Raymond Pellegrin). As is the way with these things, he proves to be a natural gangster, swiftly rising through the ranks until his ambition overcomes him and he crosses the Don, leading to a climactic confrontation between the two men.
This is a film with a veneer of class. It has a stately pace, epic feel and – the major selling point – quite excellent cinematography from Giulio Albonico (who also shot H2S and I cannibali). Director Pasquale Squitieri stages everything with some skill, although as with most of his films there’s a curiously muted feel (this isn’t an exhuberent poliziotteschi in the style of Umberto Lenzi or Enzo Castellari). He seems to have been influenced by the French crime films of the time, and it even features a number of French (or French-adopted) performers in the cast: Jean Seberg, Charles Vanel, Raymond Pellegrin. Many people rate this as a classic, I’m not entirely convinced; it has the look of a classic, but the plot’s too familiar and it doesn’t really have much to say. But it’s still a superior genre entry.